The Susquehannock Indians who had villages along the Susquehanna River near Elizabethtown were described in 1608 by Captain John Smith of Jamestown as a powerful people. Two other tribes from the Chesapeake Bay also sought refuge in the Elizabethtown area. They were the Conoy Indians and the Nanticock Indians. In the late 1700’s, the Conoy Indians relocated to avoid conflicts surrounding the Revolutionary War.
The Ober Clock, a Pennsylvania clock in our collection, was made by an Elizabethtown resident Henry B. Ober Jr. (born 1804 – died 1880) in the 1840’s. Henry Jr. was the son of a wagon maker, Henry Ober, of West Donegal Township. Clocks in Pennsylvania were produced in the traditional way by incorporating features of Connecticut clocks into their design throughout the early 1800’s. This method was expensive and time consuming, which accounts for their rarity.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, IOOF, was a benevolent society that originated in England during the 18th century. The first American lodge was established in 1819 in Baltimore, MD. In 1845, a Lodge was established in Elizabethtown. Meetings were held in the home of Mrs. Susanna Redsecker, at 244 South Market Street. The Lodge was an Elizabethtown mainstay from 1846 until the early 1970’s.
A 1860’s One Room Restored Schoolhouse – this house was used as a schoolhouse, a paint shop, Scout Troop 1’s meeting location, a recreation center, and storage for fire-fighting apparatus. Today, it is a restored one-room schoolhouse and a museum containing various artifacts of historical significance to Elizabethtown. An extensive display of one and two room schools that were operational from the mid 1800’s to the mid 1950’s in Elizabethtown and the surrounding area are incorporated along the walls of the room. Photographs of the schools, school class rosters, and class photos are all part of this display. In addition, oral histories of former students are available for review.
Masonic Village – the Elizabethtown Campus has a long, rich history dating back to 1902, when Edgar Tennis called upon the Grand Lodge to establish, finance, and administer a Masonic Home. His motivation might have been the fact that elderly people who did not have families were sent to almshouses or poor houses that met only minimal standards. The almshouses were known for their dilapidated facilities and inadequate care. Masonic Organization Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania thought they could do better. A call went out to communities in Pennsylvania to submit proposals on why their community would be best for a new development to be called the Masonic Homes. The Masons received 33 responses, and in 1910, deemed Elizabethtown to be the best location to found the Masonic Homes.
Hershey Transit Company – begun in 1915, the line opened between Elizabethtown and Hershey. Trolleys ran every hour from early morning to late at night carrying employees to and from work. In addition, they hauled fresh milk from dairy farms to Hershey and Klein Chocolate. After the line was completed, Hershey Chocolate built a few “milk stations” along the line where dairy farmers could drop off milk cans. One such station was located at the intersection of North Market and Linden Street in Elizabethtown.
Gebhart’s Art Shop and Book Store opened its doors in 1932, and quickly established itself as a landmark within the community. By 1944, this store was renowned as an establishment where a shopper could find just about anything. Located at 28 W. High Street, siblings Raymond and Lizzie Gebhart were the colorful proprietors. Their store specialized in find china, among other memorable items.
Elizabethtown’s Dairy Industry is more than milk – it is jobs and economic activity for local dairy farmers. Each cow produces an average of 6.3 gallons of milk each day. That is more than 2,300 gallons each year. According to the USDA, about 99% of all US daily farms are family-owned and operated. On average, dairy farmers receive 30 cents of every retail dollar.
Elizabethtown Post Office was constructed in 1939 by the WPA – the Works Progress Administration. Post Office memorabilia from the 1890s is on display, showcasing logs and early post office tools. Note the mural in the Post Office next time you visit.
Klein’s Chocolate Company was incorporated in 1914, a year after William and Frederick Klein began manufacturing milk chocolate in Elizabethtown. Klein Chocolate Company became a major player in the candy business with national distribution for their products. By 1922 the company employed 200 people and produced 250,000 chocolate bars a day. To produce that chocolate, the plant required 6,000,000 quarts of milk a year, which gave area dairy farmers a steady market.
Vintage clothing – a display of clothing dating from the 1850’s highlights:
- 1880’s knit shawl
- black fur muff
- black mantle
- derby hat
- knit cap
- 1900 beaded belt
- baby cape
- 1920’s boy knit swim suit
- additional accessories, representing different decades
The collection can be viewed before and after monthly meetings, or by special request. Please contact us on 717-361-9382 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to see our collection.